Letter: HATG Romeo’s Protests of 10¢ Fee For Paper Bags Don’t Reconcile with Steep Fines Imposed on Public Housing Residents

Letter to the editor submitted by Dawn Fortunato, RTM District 3

A plastic bag ban that goes before the RTM on Monday, March 12  would eliminate single use plastic bags in Greenwich in places like CVS and supermarkets including Acme and Stop & Shop.

Why the ban? Because single use plastic is bad for the environment. The bags are manufactured with chemicals, including BPA, which every smart mom knows is linked to cancer.  Single use plastic bags clog storm drains that exacerbate flooding.  They wind up in Long Island Sound where they get caught in boat motors and wind up inside the fish we consume. Visually, the bags blow around and get caught in trees and shrubs.

I do my part and recycle at the transfer station or the grocery store, and many of you do too. But what you might not know is that plastic bags are removed  and wind up being incinerated during the single stream recycling process! Why?

They get caught in the machinery, causing expensive repairs. Rather than recycle them, the bags are either incinerated, which pollutes the air, or they are buried in landfills. Out of sight; out of mind, right? Not exactly.

The buried bags take 500 years to break down and leaves small plastic fragments in the soil.

As for the proposed ban, if you are a SNAP or WIC recipient, or a nonprofit, the retailer will exempt you from paying the 10¢ and provide free biodegradable paper bags.

Who supports the single use plastic bag ban? State Rep Livvy Floren, First Selectman Tesei, Selectman John Toner, Selectman Sandy Litvak,  and many environmentally conscience RTM members, taxpayers, the Chamber of Commerce, and stores like Richards.

In January a small group of women who call themselves The Fiscal Femmes formed and targeted the plastic bag ban. They say the ban is actually a tax designed to legislative behavior.

But the ban is not a tax.

If you bring your own bag, you will not be charged.

The Fiscal Femmes recently teamed up with Sam Romeo, the chairman of the board of the Housing Authority of Greenwich, to be outraged at what they say is a punitive tax on the least fortunate.

Sam Romeo’s concern for those less fortunate is hard to reconcile with the steep fines the Housing Authority imposes on residents for infractions, including if you leave your garbage bag outside your apartment door and plan to take it to the dumpster on your way to your car. If you’re not quick enough, a $25 fine imposed! Put it in the wrong dumpster due to overflow that’s another $50.00 fine.

Got a new car and don’t have a sticker yet from the housing authority? They will call parking services (or Greenwich Police after 4:00pm,) and you’ll get a ticket with a $100 fine.

How many plastic bags could that pay for?

Also hard to reconcile with Mr. Romeo’s concern* about tenants is his 2014 effort to require that public housing tenants purchase $100 rental insurance as part of their lease.


According to their Facebook page, the Fiscal Femmes believe in forward thinking and fiscally sound policies to help women achieve economic freedom. They claim that the BYOGreenwich ordinance creates a negative business environment that will hurt businesses.

Yet their proposal requires businesses pay customers 5¢ for every reusable bag they
bring with them. That sure sounds like a TAX on businesses.

They further suggest everyone receive a maximum of 10 plastic bags per visit.

How does 10 plastic bags per customer per visit solve anything? How does even one plastic bag per visit solve anything?

So, what are Fiscal Femmes doing for Greenwich?

Taxing our businesses
Not reducing plastic bag waste
Not encouraging reusable bags

I fully support and applaud the efforts of BYO Greenwich for their initiative and tenacity to make Greenwich greener now and for the future of our children.

Dawn Fortunato
RTM District 3